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Manchester reviewed
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Manchester music reviews

A feast for the senses

A Feast for the Senses by Richard Whalley

Reviewed by Denis Joe November 2012


I discovered the music of Richard Whalley having attended a concert in Liverpool given by Ensemble 10/10 last year. On the programme was a piece, specially commissioned by Ensemble 10/10, A Very Serious Game, which is the first composition on this albums, is based around three lithographs by the Dutch Artist M.C. Escher: The House of Stairs, Three Worlds and Metamorphosis.

 

The piano opens the first movement with a feeling of walking that tries to maintain an order as the woodwind instruments threaten to undermine the pace. Yet House of Stairs section grabs the listener from the outset and repeated listening only reinforces  the order as each instrument battles for dominance with its own melody. To that extent the piece reminds me of Elliot Carter’s work, particularly the Cello Sonata. And like the approach of Carter, Whalley keeps a tight rein on the music.

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Manchester music reviews

Così fan tutte - Welsh National Opera

Così fan tutte by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe November 2012


Conductor: Mark Wigglesworth
Director: Benjamin Davis
Designer: Max Jones

 

Over the years I have seen around five different productions of Così fan tutte, and however beautiful the music, I always come away feeling unsettled by what is a morally repugnant libretto; and perhaps the fact that the music is so wonderful seems to make the experience all the more distasteful.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Loneliness of the Long Distance RunnerThe Loneliness of The Long Distance Runner

A Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Production

Reviewed by Jane Turner November 2012

 

“You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again”. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

 

In Alan Sillitoe’s classic story of freedom, Colin Smith the protagonist is a free man by this definition and chooses to make his own history but not in conditions of his own choosing. In doing so, he exercises his free will and demonstrates his resilience and determination.

 

Elliott Barnes-Worrell as Colin Smith certainly goes the distance and delivers an adrenaline rush in more ways than one, in this compelling and brave adaptation in a contemporary setting, of an Alan Sillitoe classic. The adaptation is by BAFTA winning and Olivier Award nominated playwright Roy Williams OBE (Sucker Punch, Fallout, Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads).

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Manchester theatre reviews

Orpheus Descending at Royal Exchange

Orpheus Descending

Royal Exchange, Manchester

Reviewed by Dave Porter October 2012 

 

Gore Vidal’s nickname for Tennessee Williams was ‘the Bird’ because so many of his plays were based around the idea of flight: characters in flight from reality or each other.

 

In Orpheus Descending, which receives a sumptuous revival at Manchester’s Royal Exchange, the motif is a central and recurring one. When handsome drifter Valentine Xavier wanders into a Deep South merchandise store he tells the owner – Lady – of a mythical bird which never sets foot on earth and sleeps on the wing.

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Manchester music reviews

Christine Tobin: Sailing to Byzantium

Sailing to Byzantium at the RNCM

A collection of 12 poems by W B Yeats, set to music by Christine Tobin for the Manchester Literature Festival

Reviewed by Helen Nugent October 2012


If you ascribe to the view that song lyrics are essentially lines of poetry, it should come as no surprise that someone has set the works of one of Ireland’s most respected poets to music.

 

A lesser artist might have baulked at the prospect of scoring the literary canon of W B Yeats but, judging by yesterday’s performance at the Royal Northern College of Music, Christine Tobin relished the opportunity. Part of the hugely diverse Manchester Literature Festival, Tobin tackled one of poetry’s modern greats and, for the most part, succeeded in capturing Yeats’ passion and intensity.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Treasured by Ailís Ní Ríain

Treasured by Ailís Ní Ríain

Directed and created by Jen Heyes, designed by Olivia du Monceau, performed at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2012

 

There is something fitting in setting a story about the Titanic in the Anglican Cathedral: both can be seen as monumental constructions dating from periods in which the human visionary was firmly in the ascendant. The Sea Odyssey was certainly one of the most spectacular events in Liverpool this year, but Treasured turned out to surpass even that.

 

We entered the main entrance of the Cathedral, walking around piles of luggage, seeing people sitting around the luggage, reading or engaged in some other sedentary occupation. We were taken through semi-darkness, accompanied by a solo trumpet playing a tune that was neither mournful nor triumphant, into the main section of the cathedral, where we took our seats.

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Manchester music reviews

Welsh National Opera - Jephtha

Jephtha by Welsh National Opera

Reviewed by Denis Joe October 2012


Cast includes
Jephtha: Robert Murray
Zebul: Alan Ewing
Storge: Diana Montague
Iphis: Fflur Wyn
Hamor: Robin Blaze (ex 7 Nov); Andrew Radley (7 Nov)
Angel: Claire Ormshaw

Katie Mitchell’s operatic staging (this Revival Director: Robin Tebbutt) of Jephtha was first produced in 2003, was first revived in 2006 and WNO have thankfully felt it worthy of restaging.

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Manchester theatre reviews

The Heretic

The Heretic by Richard Bean

Produced by The Library Theatre at The Lowry

Reviewed by Helen Nugent October 2012


A trip to a production by the Library Theatre is like a visit to the Donmar Warehouse in London: odds are you will have a thought-provoking and hugely entertaining evening. And so it was last night at a performance of ‘The Heretic’ at The Lowry.

 

Boy, Richard Bean really does know how to write great parts for actors. Anyone in any doubt of this should go and see ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, his award-winning adaptation of a 1743 Commedia dell’arte comedy by Carlo Goldoni. Or, for that matter, ‘The Heretic’ for which Bean relies solely on his own imagination.

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Manchester theatre reviews

Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster

Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster

Royal Exchange, Manchester

Reviewed by Catherine Smyth September 2012


‘Now, make this known’

Those four words echoed around the auditorium as two actors silently left the stage. The packed audience at Manchester’s Royal Exchange was sitting attentively. They waited for a minute not sure whether to applaud or just to leave the theatre in the same eerie silence.

 

The Radio 4 play has been adapted for stage and presents a powerful real life drama. It gives a voice to the peace-loving unique individual that was Sophie. The 20-year-old gap year student whose life was cruelly stamped out in a gang attack in a Bacup park in 2007.

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Manchester book reviews

The Memory Eater

The Memory Eater

Stories that Erase the Past to Save the Future

To be reviewed by Sara Porter January 2013

 

The Memory Eater: Stories that Erase the Past to Save the Future. This science fiction-inspired anthology consists of 27 uniquely written and illustrated stories based on a futuristic device with the ability to locate and destroy any memory in the human mind. Each of the 24 authors wrote original stories around the concept, and 27 artists contributed a companion original piece of art for the stories.

 

The anthology was pitched to select publishers with positive feedback, but ultimately, I decided to take advantage of the evolving book publishing landscape and retain control over the book publication and distribution by raising the funds to self-publish. Today marks the launch of the Kickstarter.com fundraising campaign to raise funds to publish The Memory Eater, which is ready to print right now!

 

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